Plain Gardening: Fire

Plain Gardening: Fire

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Bill "Smokey" Finch at Mobile Botanical Gardens has set the gardens on fire!

Well, part of the Gardens—the wild part.  And it's for a good reason.  This is part of a controlled burn set by the Alabama Forestry Commission to help clear underbrush from beneath the trees.  Controlled burns are carefully orchestrated by professionals on days with just the right mix of winds and humidity.

Years ago, the general consensus was that any fire was bad and should be snuffed out quickly.  But Finch says that forestry folks have learned since that fire is as natural as rain to a forest.  Regular fires keep the kindling-like underbrush from piling up and getting big enough to harm the trees when fire inevitably does happen.

Finch says there's another benefit, too.  Several species of wildflowers need fire to bloom, and the blackened ground here will be filled with flowers by fall.

Learn more about beneficial fires and about Mobile Botanical Gardens at

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